Children's property and inheritance rights, 
HIV and Aids, and social protection in Southern and Eastern Africa

HIV/AIDS Programme
Working Paper

Children's Property Inheritance in the
Context of HIV and AIDS
in Zimbabwe

Laurel L. Rose, Ph.D.

Download PDF - 381 Kb

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Rome, 2008


HIV and AIDS has exacerbated the vulnerability of orphaned children who are suffering in a vicious cycle of poverty, food insecurity, lack of access to education, and insecure livelihoods.

Moreover, orphaned children are exposed to various forms of abuse by close family members, many of whom are their guardians. Movable and immovable properties that are left by their deceased parents are often confiscated by such guardians. Consequently, orphaned children suffer, not only from material impoverishment, but also from emotional impoverishment due to negligence by their close family members.

Secure property and inheritance rights to children can provide the basis for their livelihoods, sense of belonging and future after the death of their parents. It cannot be overemphasized that secure property rights are the single most important rights of children in the era of AIDS. Yet, children's property and inheritance rights have not been given sufficient attention.

This paper investigates children's rights to property and inheritance rights as well as local people's interpretation of children's rights to property in selected communities in Zimbabwe as a case study. It analyses the impact of HIV and AIDS on children's rights to property and community responses to property grabbing. The study is an attempt to unpack the complex realities of children's rights to property on the ground. By doing so, the paper provides concrete recommendations to policy makers and development agencies on what should be done to protect and strengthen children's rights to property. It is our hope that this paper will be the messenger of the children who were interviewed under the study and that our work can contribute to the protection of property rights and the livelihoods of many other children in the near future.

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by FAO in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.

All rights reserved. Reproduction and dissemination of material in this information product for educational or other non-commercial purposes are authorized without any prior written permission from the copyright holders provided the source is fully acknowledged. Reproduction of material in this information product for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holders.

Applications for such permission should be addressed to:

Chief, Electronic Publishing Policy and Support Branch
Communication Division - FAO
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome, Italy
or by e-mail

© FAO 2008